offered a stirring speech from Governor's Island while surrounded by leaders of a number of New York religious communities. In his speech, he said,
"Whatever you may think of the proposed mosque and community center, lost in the heat of the debate has been a basic question: Should government attempt to deny private citizens the right to build a house of worship on private property based on their particular religion? That may happen in other countries, but we should never allow it to happen here. This nation was founded on the principle that the government must never choose between religions or favor one over another."
"Let us not forget that Muslims were among those murdered on 9/11, and that our Muslim neighbors grieved with us as New Yorkers and as Americans. We would betray our values and play into our enemies' hands if we were to treat Muslims differently than anyone else. In fact, to cave to popular sentiment would be to hand a victory to the terrorists, and we should not stand for that."
his own program on CNN and international editor of Newsweek. Mr. Kirby and I have been watching the program on Sunday mornings and have learned much from the rational, thoughtful discussions he encourages from guests who can articulate a vision and disagree without attacking each other. (CNN -- you want to know how to succeed? Put this show on at 8pm instead of Elliot Spitzer and Kathleen Parker.)
In 2005, Zakaria received the Hubert Humphrey First Amendment Freedoms Prize from the Anti-Defamation League, an organization that purports to ""fight anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defend democratic ideals and protect civil rights for all."
Sadly, it seems the head of the ADL, Abe Foxman, has missed the second point of that message as he has publicly come out against the building of the community center and mosque. Zakaria, noting this position goes against the very reason for the ADL's existance, returned the award and the $10,000 honorarium. In his letter to the organization, he wrote,
I was stunned at your decision to publicly side with those urging the relocation of the planned Islamic center in lower Manhattan. You are choosing to use your immense prestige to take a side that is utterly opposed to the animating purpose of your organization. Your own statements subsequently, asserting that we must honor the feelings of victims even if irrational or bigoted, made matters worse.Thank you, Dr. Zakaria, for showing us that it is possible to add more light than heat by facilitating discussions on cable news and for making such an eloquent statement against bigotry of all forms.